Have you ever heard of the 10,000-hour rule?
The basic idea, proposed by writer Malcolm Gladwell, is that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master a subject. So apply this rule to language learning, and you’d need 10,000 hours to become fluent.
The good news is that this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, although nobody will deny that learning a language requires practice, practice, practice.
But if you’re not currently living in China, how are you ever going to log enough hours to get conversational—let alone 10,000 of them?
Well, you’re not the only Chinese learner with this question.
In fact, there are several video channels and resources created exactly for you, which provide realistic Chinese dialogues and skits you can use to master the language.
Not only will you pick up essential vocabulary for conversing with native speakers, but you’ll also train yourself to understand the rhythms and cadences of authentic Chinese. Plus, you’ll have fun doing it.
Let’s start logging those hours!
How Videos with Real-World Conversations Boost Your Learning
They simulate real situations without being overwhelming.
One of the best ways to get fluent is to practice understanding real-world speech and situations in Chinese.
Unlike Chinese movies or TV shows, which are often very fast and sometimes crammed with slang, YouTube videos will get you comfortable hearing realistic Chinese without confusing you. Sometimes the dialogue is even a bit slowed down to help your ear.
They provide helpful visuals.
We’ve all heard of the old cliché that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, according to Forrester Research, a minute of video is worth precisely 1.8 million words.
That means these videos will help boost your language skills by creating connections between the dialogue and the action on the screen.
Plus, since many of these videos are made for a Chinese learning audience, the visuals are typically designed to boost your understanding (rarely will someone be talking about something that’s not connected to what you’re watching).
29 Chinese Video Resources for Learning Real-world Conversation in Action
1. Asian Boss: “Can Chinese Write Their Own Language?”
Asian Boss is an independent South Korean press company focused on covering social issues and current events in Asia. They have a presence in several Asian countries, including Japan, Korea, India, and yes, China.
In this video, local Chinese residents are tested on their knowledge of Mandarin characters.
Interviewees are shown an image and then asked to write it down in the notebook, to varying degrees of success.
The words featured are common, yet difficult to write. After the exercise, the interviewees are asked about the status of handwriting in China and how Chinese people remember characters.
This is a fascinating and humorous look into what many argue is the most difficult aspect of Chinese. Newcomers can rest easy—they’re not the only ones who find 汉字 (hànzì, Chinese characters) difficult!
2. Chineasy: ShaoLan’s Chineasy Lesson 1
This video from Shao Lan, creator of the app Chineasy, takes an introductory look at the meanings behind Chinese characters by using simple, easy-to-understand pictograms.
Starting with basic characters, she combines them with other radicals to show how they form larger words and ideas. You’ll be hypnotized by the gorgeous animations, which all build off of those previously introduced in the video.
She associates the character with its meaning, rather than the individual Chinese word, which is immensely helpful when you’re first learning to read and write Chinese.
She explains Chinese culture as well, showing how its ideas translated into the Chinese writing system. You’ll be amazed at the vast majority of words you can make with a few simple characters!
3. This Group of People: Problems When Traveling with Friends
This Group of People is a Taiwanese comedy group that creates sketches about modern life in Taiwan, which offers a look at contemporary Taiwanese culture. All of their videos include subtitles in English and Taiwanese Mandarin.
This video features different scenarios found within a group of friends on a trip, from the complaining travel mate to the lovey-dovey couples.
Not only does it feature everyday conversations between Taiwanese people, but it’s sure to be relatable to anyone who’s ever traveled in a group. Keep your ears peeled for lots of slang and vocabulary around travel and friendships!
Other sketches on their channel include how people shop and what you hear at the doctor’s office, which are perfect supplements to any unit on Mandarin!
4. LIT’s “ABCs Call Their Parents in Chinese for the First Time”
Lost in Translation (LIT) is an entertainment channel intended for a Chinese-American audience.
There aren’t really any dialogue videos here, but most videos contain Mandarin and English subtitles.
I particularly wanted to share this video of ABCs speaking to their parents in Mandarin. If you don’t know, the term ABC generally refers to Asian Westerners and stands for “American-born Chinese.”
In this particular video, ABCs who are just barely learning Chinese are filmed speaking to their parents in Mandarin over the phone for the first time. It highlights a series of phone conversations in Mandarin between non-native speakers and their native-speaking parents.
The dialogues are real and don’t consist of a pre-planned script. Aside from providing some useful vocabulary and listening comprehension practice, it should help you feel a little less alone in your language quest!
5. Everyday Chinese
With both a YouTube channel and website, Everyday Chinese offers videos that teach grammar points, offer HSK tips (the 汉语水平考试 Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi, the Chinese proficiency test) and give insights into Chinese culture through street interviews.
They have playlists specifically for HSK materials, covering levels 1-4 (easiest to high intermediate). The people in their interviews range from children to the elderly, enabling you to practice listening to a wide variety of speech styles.
Additionally, their channel boasts a wide variety of authentic Chinese conversations that delve into the different customs and traditions of China, such as making mooncakes.
With practical conversation tied into lively and interesting language lessons, you’ll get a more thorough understanding of the context behind each word.
If you love learning with YouTube videos, shows and other video-based programs, you’ll love FluentU!
You'll find a wide range of contemporary videos that cover all different interests and levels, as you can see here:
FluentU brings these native Chinese videos within reach via interactive captions. You can tap on any word to instantly look it up.
All words have carefully written definitions and examples that will help you understand how a word is used. Tap to add words you'd like to review to a vocab list.
From the description page, you can access interactive transcripts under the Dialogue tab, or review words and phrases under Vocab.
The best part is that FluentU always keeps track of your learning. It customizes quizzes to focus on areas that need attention and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. In other words, you get a 100% personalized experience.
Try FluentU in your browser or, better yet, download the FluentU iOS or Android app today!
Lili is an experienced Chinese teacher, which her in-depth videos aimed at a beginner audience make apparent.
On her YouTube Channel, she offers listening and conversation practice.
She encourages you to pay attention to the spoken words by having the dialogue transcript in a lighter, hard-to-read font. Once the dialogue is complete, you’ll be offered a comprehension check.
Playlists are arranged based on level and category, so you can select the videos that are right for you.
Lili also covers grammatical points in incredible detail, such as “up” “and” and “very.” With so much comprehensive material, you can spend hours enjoying all the ins and outs of Chinese!
8. Mandarin Corner
These longer videos for beginner to upper-intermediate learners are incredibly diverse, with everything from parts of speech, tips on correcting your accent and street interviews with Chinese natives.
During interviews, they discuss current events and social phenomenons with people that have a wide variety of accents, so you can get familiar with speech styles from different regions of China.
On a more formal front, their in-depth lessons range from beginner to upper-intermediate. They even offer practice tests for HSK hopefuls, which is fantastic for those hoping to get in some study time before the big exam!
9. Chinese Zero to Hero
Chinese Zero to Hero offers lessons that take you from beginner all the way to advanced in Chinese language comprehension.
They specifically select TV shows and movies that supplement units within their courses.
On their YouTube channel, Chinese Zero to Hero offers lessons that go into the details of specific grammar points, complete with skits to illustrate them.
While their videos don’t have pinyin, relying instead on your knowledge of the characters and sounds, all dialogue is spoken very clearly, so listening along isn’t too much of a struggle.
10. Learn Chinese Now
This channel is hosted by Ben Hedges. He’s quite comical in his commentary and makes learning Mandarin fun.
What makes this channel so awesome is that the lessons are often based on current events in China or Taiwan. Ben discusses the event and uses it as the catalyst for the day’s lesson.
In the videos with a dialogue, Ben often assumes dual roles, dressing in silly attire to distinguish between the two speakers that he’s playing. The videos are interspersed with Ben providing an explanation of the conversation before resuming the skit. Other videos include multiple actors.
If you need a break from the typical repetitive nature of language learning, watch Ben’s videos; you’ll appreciate his light-hearted approach!
11. FluentU’s YouTube Channels
So, you may already know that FluentU’s program content is all based on fun YouTube videos. But did you know we also have our very own YouTube channels?
I’d recommend you start by checking out our FluentU Chinese YouTube channel! The majority of videos were made for our program—you’ll find loads of short, beginner-friendly videos that explore grammar topics like nouns, adjectives and basic verbs.
While there are no subtitles, the images help you capture the meaning through immersion.
Each video is short and sweet, so you can squeeze in a quick lesson whenever you want! (And you can always go check out these videos with in the FluentU program to get the accompanying subtitles, flashcards, quizzes and more.)
In addition to our Chinese YouTube channel, we also have a general language learning channel dedicated to talking about language learning tips and strategies (ones that work for any language).
Here we talk about how to use YouTube, podcasts, movies and more fun, modern tools to study on your own.
This YouTube channel produces video skits in Chinese using both actors and animation.
It’s particularly worth watching for the “Speak Mandarin in 1,000 Words or Less” series—each of the videos in the series takes you through a different conversation you’re likely to encounter in the real world such as ordering food, getting a train ticket or going to the doctor.
There are also a good number of videos here if you’re interested in learning about Chinese culture.
This includes a tour of a Chinese creative market and renting a YouBike, a popular bicycle rental service in Taipei, Taiwan.
eChineseLearning is rich in material for beginners.
The video skits typically begin with a brief lesson introducing new words or phrases. Then you’ll see a single actor assuming a dual role in a back-and-forth conversation in Chinese, with some explanations in English interspersed throughout.
While it’s a bit cheesy, it’ll keep your attention!
The dialogue is also interrupted midway to provide a grammatical or vocabulary lesson about some of the words just spoken. This format, combined with the pinyin subtitles, makes the videos very beginner-friendly.
mandarinnetwork no longer appears to be active, but its videos are still published on YouTube, so you can take advantage of the useful lessons found there.
Videos here normally begin with a vocabulary lesson before taking the viewer through a simple dialogue skit using the newly introduced words.
Lessons include dialogue that visitors and expats may find useful, such as conversations you may encounter when visiting a produce market, getting a massage or writing a resume.
All the lessons in the beginning and in between the skits include Chinese characters and pinyin. Some of the skits also contain subtitles while others don’t. Most videos conclude with a recap.
This channel has a video series of an actual Chinese sitcom with professional actors.
The premise of the show revolves around the daily life of a western foreigner living with a host family in China. It’s a fantastic stepping stone to watching authentic Chinese TV!
While Chinese and English subtitles are provided, the dialogue is spoken at a near-native level.
They’re geared more towards intermediate and advanced students. Nevertheless, beginners can still enjoy the show for its wholesome entertainment and even pick up a few words or phrases along the way.
16. Wenyu Chinese
All of Wenyu Chinese’s lessons are structured around real Chinese movies, TV shows and news.
As they play a clip from a show or movie, certain key phrases and grammar points are highlighted in the subtitles. After the clip, they offer an explanation of the highlighted terms.
Fortunately, they’re very comprehensive in their explanations and elaborate on easily confused terms.
If you’re looking to add more Chinese media to your learning schedule, Wenyu Chinese is a fantastic channel to check out.
17. Slow & Clear Chinese
As the channel name implies, Slow & Clear Chinese tells Chinese stories in a slow, steady voice so viewers can catch every word.
The stories cover a wide array of topics, from cooking to technology and more, so you can find exactly what you’re interested in learning about. The narrator’s voice is very soft and mellow—really, you could spend hours listening to her talk!
In some videos, the stories are recited once in a slow voice, then again at a more natural speed so you can get accustomed to both styles of speech.
18. Litao Chinese
A very systematic service that focuses on the more traditional video lecture—but hey, that format exists for a reason!
While the YouTube channel hasn’t been updated in some time, it’s still a valuable resource for beginners.
These short lectures cover vocabulary and grammar, as well as the construction of Chinese characters. The instructor breaks all of the points down very literally, so you can get a full look at the structure of Chinese sentences.
Offering classes both online and at their language school in Shanghai, GoEast is a Chinese language school that brings their classroom straight to you.
They offer a plethora of short, sweet videos for learning tips that can help you sound more like a native and insights into useful everyday language.
For instance, they tell you how to express embarrassment and even procrastinate!
Their skits are charming and never fail to make you smile. All of their videos are in Chinese with English subtitles, so even watching just one or two will provide valuable listening practice.
20. Mandarin With Miss Lin
This channel is a bit unique in that it focuses exclusively on Taiwanese Mandarin.
All Mandarin words are in pinyin, characters, and bopomofo (Mandarin phonetic symbols).
Lin’s videos are very informative and engaging, with information on Taiwanese culture, how to speak with a proper Taiwanese accent and the differences between Taiwanese Mandarin and mainland Mandarin.
She packs a lot of information into every minute, so they’re good for a more involved study session. Covering everything from professional vocabulary to slang words, you’ll be set for any situation you find yourself in.
21. Yimin Chinese
For a sunny and bubbly channel focused on beginners, look no further than Yimin. She does a fantastic job of breaking down new words and phrases into their individual parts so they’re easy to understand.
In addition to her HSK course videos, she offers tips on how to sound like native Chinese speakers, introducing key phrases and vocabulary that natives use.
She also has an Etsy store where she makes flashcards and worksheets for the first three HSK levels, which are both adorable and helpful!
22. Hit Chinese
Have you ever heard of comprehensive input?
In short, it’s a type of full-scale immersion that builds on top of existing knowledge, offering bits of new information mixed in with what you already understand.
This is how Hit Chinese teaches Mandarin.
The instructor speaks slowly and clearly, using gestures and on-screen images to illustrate new concepts. English translations are put on the upper left corner of the video and can be easily covered up if you want to focus exclusively on listening.
It’s a great way of training your brain to pick up on new words. She repeats the featured terms over and over again in her stories, speaking very slowly and clearly, which builds a real foundation in Chinese.
23. Chinese Podcast
This channel is more like a podcast than a traditional video, but it’s incredibly valuable for intermediate learners.
The instructor guides you through formal textbook-style exercises, covering grammar and vocabulary that you’ll be likely to find in a structured language class. Her approach is akin to a tutor’s, answering any questions the viewer may have about some of the trickier aspects of intermediate grammar.
She also has a few videos on Chinese poetry and short stories, if you want to spice things up a bit.
24. Harbin Chinese
Yishuang is a native of Harbin, which in addition to its frigid climate, is known for its residents speaking incredibly standard Mandarin.
If you’re looking to learn from someone who won’t throw in too many regional terms, Harbin Chinese is a great teacher.
Yishuang’s lessons run longer, around 10-15 minutes, for more extensive instruction. She speaks very eloquently and is extremely easy to understand.
After introducing the sets of vocabulary, she provides example sentences and allows you to put together the pieces on your own. She’s great at illustrating and emphasizing the tones, too!
Peggy is a Mandarin tutor with a YouTube channel full of free material.
Like some of the other channels mentioned, several of the videos include Peggy assuming dual roles in a dialogue, though there are also others that include multiple participants.
What I really like about Peggy’s videos is that she clearly puts a lot of work into them. You get engaging lessons on unique topics, with lots of cultural relevance.
This is especially evident in this video where she has a conversation with an actual bartender.
The end of the video contains a little humor where she tries to leave without paying and is arrested by police. Real police officers actually haul her into a patrol car.
Now, that’s some dedication if you put in the work to get actual law enforcement involved for a skit!
26. ShuoShuo Chinese
Shuo is an upbeat Chinese teacher, best suited for high-level beginners with a foundation in Chinese. She teaches extremely common terms and phrases that can “level up” your Chinese!
Topics she covers include common mistakes in speech, conversation fillers and diversifying your vocabulary. Her skits are charming and engaging, with handy tips and examples of each word.
She engages well with the viewer, putting a personal touch on every video and letting the audience test their Chinese comprehension as well as their understanding of the new material.
27. Learn Chinese with Jesse
With a casual take on learning, Jesse’s vlogs are highly emotive and hilarious, with laughter in every clip.
Her Mandarin is highly casual with lots of slang thrown in. She goes into details on sounding casual (some topics are a bit less family friendly), as well as corrections on commonly misused terms found in Chinese learners’ speech. She also goes into tones and Chinese names, such as nicknames for Western celebrities.
Some of her videos have Cantonese language tips alongside Mandarin ones!
28. Grace Mandarin Chinese
Grace is a Taiwanese YouTuber who reviews food, slang and how to pronounce words just like a native. She also offers insight into the differences in Chinese between Taiwan and Mainland China.
She’s very expressive and goes into the details of certain areas that may cause Chinese learners confusion, such as sentence-final particles. She also shows examples of fixed expressions from skits and TV shows, offering a look at how these terms are used in real-world contexts.
Since she’s Taiwanese, sometimes her videos use bopomofo instead of pinyin.
29. Blondie in China
Blondie in China is an Australian YouTuber who shares her travels in China as well as other Chinese-speaking countries on her YouTube channel, going all over the nation to try regional cuisine, experience local culture and truly getting to know the cities.
All videos are subtitled in Mandarin Chinese and English.
In addition to her tourism videos, Blondie offers really helpful advice for embarking on your Chinese learning journey. Whether it’s how to memorize vocabulary or finding material suited for your level, this video is GREAT for figuring out how to plan out your learning strategy:
Textbook learning has its place, but it’s always nice to introduce some novelty to the way you learn. Videos showing conversations in action add a fresh spin. Best of all, they make learning fun, and fun maintains motivation.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Chinese with real-world videos.